Pages tagged "Health and Wellbeing"
14 November 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:10): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of LGBTIQ equality in the regions.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In 2016 and 2017, the government of Victoria began a roadshow in rural and regional areas in their state as part of their LGBTIQ Equality Rural and Regional Program. The program is focused on, and I quote from the government of Victoria website:
…improving mental health outcomes, boosting population retention and economic inclusion, building capacity for communities to empower themselves, developing lasting networks between LGBTI communities, services providers and government agencies and improving broader community support for inclusion and identity.
The government of Victoria advises that the:
…roadshow visited more than 29 towns…engaging with local LGBTIQ+ communities, allies, business leaders, representatives of local service providers and local government.
An evaluation of the program found it had a positive impact on LGBTI people in regional Victoria with, and I quote from the website, 'LGBTI people reporting greater acceptance and displays of support in their communities.'
The government of Victoria is now developing a Rainbow Ready road map to respond to the needs of LGBTI people in the regions who were identified during the roadshow. My question to the minister therefore is: does she have plans to hold a similar roadshow to engage with LGBTI people in regional South Australia and, if not why not?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:12): I thank the honourable member for his question. I am not aware of any government proposals to have such a roadshow. Certainly, as a government we have done a wide range of measures in terms of increasing the opportunities for communication and collaboration with various groups within the community. I am happy to check with the Minister for Human Services in the other place to see if there are any such plans.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:12): Supplementary: will the minister consider the idea of a roadshow herself and, in particular, will she consider developing an LGBTIQ equality rural and regional program like her Victorian counterparts?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:13): Such a roadshow or policy or strategy would fall within the remit of the Minister for Human Services in the other place. She has certainly been very open to giving particular consideration to the needs of the community who are located in regional areas, for which I commend her. I will ask whether she has considered such a proposal to which the honourable member refers.
23 January 2024
In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14 November 2023).
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Human Services has advised:
The Equality Project, a national LGBTIQA+ organisation, is currently conducting interviews with LGBTIQA+ South Australians with a goal of understanding people's experiences, connections to community, and identifying possible changes to better support LGBTIQA+ people. This project, which is funded by the Fay Fuller Foundation, has a particular focus on engaging with LGBTIQA+ people in regional South Australia.
The LGBTIQA+ Minister's Advisory Council recently had an update on the findings from the peer-to-peer interviews conducted to date as part of this initiative, including the unique needs emerging from LGBTIQA+ people living in regional and rural South Australia.
The findings of this project will be used to inform a potential roadshow like the ones that have occurred in Victoria and future actions the government can take to better support LGBTIQA+ people in regional South Australia.
1 November 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (19:46): I rise to speak on the report of the Social Development Committee on its inquiry into the impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on South Australians living with disability who have complex needs and are, or are at risk of, residing for long periods in inappropriate accommodation.
I mean no disrespect to the committee or members of the community who have a significant interest in this proposal when I indicate that my remarks will be very brief, simply in recognition of the lateness of the hour. It was a privilege to participate in the inquiry as a member of the Social Development Committee, along with the Hon. Ian Hunter, who is the Chair of the committee and obviously a member of this place.
The committee looked into a range of important matters. Its terms of reference included the ability to access and navigate the requirements of the NDIS; the timeliness of approval for appropriate specialist disability supports, including home and living decisions through the NDIS and the processes that may lead to delays; the adequacy of funding in the NDIS plans to fund the supports required; the ability of the NDIS workforce and market, including the specialist disability accommodation policy settings and the market in South Australia and the role that it plays in delivering necessary accommodation and funded supports; the impact on the wellbeing of participants of these inappropriate accommodation arrangements; any negative impacts on state government services; and any other related matters.
The committee has made a number of recommendations, and the Hon. Ian Hunter spoke to those in his remarks during the last parliamentary sitting. I take this opportunity to thank all members of the committee but also the secretariat for their work in pulling together the evidence, which was substantial, and crafting the recommendations, and all the people who took the time to appear before the committee and share their stories with us. Some of their stories were quite personal and at times it was an emotionally challenging committee to be on and to hear that evidence, but I know that all of us really appreciated hearing from people impacted by this area and hearing about their lived experiences.
It is my hope that the government will take action in relation to the recommendations. They are detailed. There is some really good work here that could be done by the government that I think would offer some real improvements for impacted South Australians. With that, I conclude my remarks.
28 September 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:35): The Greens are supportive of this bill. This bill allows the next of kin of a deceased person to request that a tissue donation statement be included on any certificate, issued under the act, certifying the death of a person. The Greens support granting formal recognition of a life-saving gift at the request of the family or next of kin of the deceased.
I want to commend the Hon. Nicola Centofanti for putting this issue on the agenda and for putting this bill forward. It is an important issue that she has highlighted, one that I think will impact many South Australian families, so we do appreciate her advocacy in this regard.
For someone who is seriously ill, an organ or a tissue transplant can mean the difference between life and death, being healthy or sick, seeing or being blind, or being active or never walking again. Transplants enable people to resume an active role in their family, their workplace and their community. Tissue donation includes bones, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, skin, corneas and heart valves and vessels.
While an organ donor can save up to seven lives, a tissue donor can impact the lives of as many as 75 people. Since 2013, more than 38,000 deceased and living tissue donations have been made. Unlike organs, many more people can become eye and tissue donors, as these can be donated following death outside of hospital and tissue can be stored for longer periods of time. Tissues for donation must be removed within 12 to 24 hours after a person dies, and the donor does not need to be maintained on a ventilator.
In 2022, there were 2,748 tissue donors, which is 17 per cent of deceased persons, and in 2021 there were 3,307. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on elective surgeries, including joint replacement surgery, resulting in a decrease in living tissue donations. I understand that eight out of 10 families give consent to donation when their family member is registered to be a donor, but this number drops to just four out of 10 families when the family is unaware that the deceased person had that wish. The decision to donate a loved one's organs and tissues will be a difficult one for many families to make, especially at a time of great loss. The generosity of those families ought to be acknowledged and commended.
I hope that this is one of those instances where we see this house rise above politics and see all sides of this chamber support it. I cannot imagine why there would not be universal support for such a sensible proposition. With that, I commend the bill.
14 September 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I want to use this opportunity to make a few general remarks about this bill because I have not yet spoken on industrial manslaughter during my time in this parliament. I regard and the Greens regard this as being a really good day for the people of South Australia because finally it appears that this reform, which is long overdue, will pass our state's upper house. It is a reflection, I think, of what this parliament does best—that is, listening to the concerns of the community, responding to their concerns and making laws that are going to change people's lives for the better and that are going to help people. That is fundamentally why we are all here in politics.
I reiterate the comments made by the Attorney-General; that is, good businesses, good employers, those who are doing the right thing by their workers, have absolutely nothing to fear from this reform. This is a positive step that is being taken for workers in our state. I acknowledge the long-term advocacy of the union movement and their passionate advocacy over many years. I know that the Greens have been proud to stand with them in this campaign over many years.
I pay tribute to the work of my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks for her leadership on this issue over the last 10 years or so. As noted by the Hon. Connie Bonaros, the Hon. Tammy Franks introduced private member's bills on this topic back in October 2010, in May 2015, on 1 May 2019, on 23 September 2020 and on 4 May 2022, so it has now been 13 years since the Hon. Tammy Franks first introduced a private member's bill to address this issue. Indeed, it was Tammy's bill in 2015 that led to an inquiry into the occupational safety rehabilitation and compensation scheme to allow cross-party development of a consensus position.
Might I say that this was a policy commitment that the Greens took to the last state election and that the Labor Party took to the last state election and, I understand, that the SA-Best political party also took to the last state election. There is clearly a mandate from the people of South Australia to see this change made. I understand that some members are seeking to mount the argument that there has not been enough consultation or there has not been enough of an opportunity to consider amendments and the like. I do not accept that. There has been considerable consultation about this reform. There has been a huge amount of public engagement on this issue.
So I do think it is a bit rich for the opposition to suggest, if they are going to, that we are not in a position to deal with this today. This was the party that waved through draconian anti-protest laws with the blink of an eye. In this case, there has been a huge amount of public engagement on this issue over years and years, and it is clear that the people of South Australia want this done. I hope the parliament is going to do that today, and that will be a really good thing for the people of our state.
14 September 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (18:34): I am disappointed to hear that no parties in the parliament are supporting the bill. I had hoped that the government would announce that they would be looking into the issues around public transport and health. It does not appear that that has been considered either, so that is disappointing.
I think it is a missed opportunity for this parliament to deal with the issue. I find some of the arguments have been quite inconsistent. The view of the opposition seems to be, 'Well, this bill will have little effect so therefore it is better to do nothing.' That is disappointing. The Greens will continue to push this to ensure that there is better regulation of junk food advertising, particularly close to schools but also on our public infrastructure like our buses, our trains, their respective stops and on public buildings. With that, I conclude my remarks.
13 September 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:59): I move:
That this council—
1. Notes that 1 to 7 September was Asthma Week, with the focus for 2023 being 'How Healthy is Your Home?'
2. Acknowledges that the report released by Asthma Australia in 2023, titled Homes, Health and Asthma in Australia, found that—
(a) many Australians are exposed to asthma triggers in their home including emissions from gas appliances, mould and pests such as dust mites;
(b) 50 per cent of Australians have had mould or dampness in their home in the last 12 months;
(c) 48 per cent of Australians use a gas cooktop even though cooking with gas is estimated to be responsible for up to 12 per cent of the childhood asthma burden; and
(d) one-quarter of Australians are not happy with, or are unsure about the air quality inside their homes.
3. Calls on the Malinauskas government to address the findings of the report by—
(a) banning gas connections to new homes;
(b) implementing minimum efficiency standards for rental homes;
(c) supporting people on low incomes to transition to efficient heating and cooking appliances; and
(d) developing education programs to support people in preventing pests and mould to improve asthma outcomes.
This motion notes that last week, 1 to 7 September, was Asthma Week, with a focus for 2023 being on 'How healthy is your home?'
The motion acknowledges that the report released by Asthma Australia in 2023, entitled Homes, Health and Asthma, found that many Australians are exposed to asthma triggers in their home, including emissions from gas appliances, mould and pests, such as dust mites. Fifty per cent of Australians have had mould or dampness in their home in the last 12 months. Forty-eight per cent of Australians use a gas cooktop, even though cooking with gas is estimated to be responsible for up to 12 per cent of the childhood asthma burden, and one-quarter of Australians are not happy or are unsure about the air quality inside their homes.
The motion calls on the government to take some action in relation to that. In particular, it calls on the Malinauskas government to ban gas connections to new homes. Members of this place will recall that I have a bill before this parliament that would ban gas connections from 2025. It is also calling on the government to implement minimum efficiency standards for rental homes, to support people on low incomes to transition to efficient heating and cooking appliances, and to develop educational programs to support people in preventing pests and mould to improve asthma outcomes.
In terms of a bit about asthma, it is a condition that impacts the lives of many South Australians. According to Asthma Australia, one in nine people in Australia have asthma, and South Australia has the highest rate in the country at 13 per cent. It is a condition that has no boundaries. It affects people of all ages and all walks of life. This year's theme, 'How healthy is your home?', invites us to focus on the relationship between the home and the communities in which we live and asthma. The air we breathe is essential to good health and wellbeing, and the recent report from Asthma Australia highlights that nexus between conditions in the home and health conditions like asthma.
This leads me to highlight some of the problems with gas. Research has shown a clear link between exposure to indoor gas emissions and an increased risk in vulnerable people, such as children and older people. Gas emissions are estimated to be responsible for up to 12 per cent of all childhood asthma, and the presence of many gas appliances in homes is exacerbating the problem. Forty-eight per cent of Australians still have gas cooktops, and many people are unaware of the link between their cooking and asthma.
We need to take action to reduce the health costs of using gas in our homes, and banning gas connections is one clear way that we can do that. I do understand that a lot of people are concerned about the impact of transitioning away from gas and their home cooking habits. For a gourmet chef like myself, that is a big sacrifice.
The Hon. T.A. Franks: You are misleading the parliament.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The honourable member has pointed out I am misleading the parliament.
The PRESIDENT: Is that a point of order, the Hon. Ms Franks?
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am making a gag, because I am terrible cook, but I have heard from people who I understand to be good cooks that with the evolution of technology now it is actually possible to still cook effectively with electric, and you can have a lot more control over the new induction-style cooktops, so it is not a case of there being a choice between being able to have that element of control with gas versus electric, as used to be the case perhaps years ago. Technology has evolved. Instead of having gas connected to new properties, we need to be encouraging the adoption of electric cooktops that produce fewer indoor pollutants and are a cleaner and a safer alternative.
Asthma Australia reports also call for better energy efficiency and ventilation standards, and this is particularly important for renters who are disempowered in ensuring that the health of their home is being upheld. We know that renters are often in a situation where they are at the mercy of the landlord and, if they have a problem with asthma, they are often powerless to be able to get the landlord to take the steps necessary. Hopefully, that will be something the Malinauskas government will remedy when it finally brings its next tranche of reforms to this house for consideration.
By ensuring there are minimum standards for rental properties and social housing we can give those people more security that their home will not have adverse impacts on their health. People on low incomes also need to be given support to make a transition away from asthma triggers and be able to access more efficient heating and cooking appliances. That is one of the reasons the Greens have been calling for the government to follow the lead of other jurisdictions like the ACT and actually make subsidies available to support people to make that transition.
Access to affordable energy efficient options can improve indoor air while reducing energy costs. This support can come in the form of subsidies, incentives or community grant programs aimed at providing these vital upgrades for people in our community who need them most.
I should also reflect that the motion makes reference to the effect of mould and pests. The Asthma Australia report on healthy homes found that, in the last 12 months, 50 per cent of Australians have had damp or mould in their homes—50 per cent! We know of course that that is being impacted by climate change as well and the change of weather conditions, but 50 per cent have had damp or mould in their home and 70 per cent have had pests. The report identifies barriers to people addressing these contributing factors, such as the cost of eradication, the lack of autonomy over property and the lack of knowledge.
The Greens are calling on the Malinauskas government to undertake community education and support for people so they can assert their rights. By addressing these factors in the home that contribute to asthma we can make inroads into reducing the impact of asthma on South Australians, our health system and the whole community.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.
30 August 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:16): I move:
That this council—
I. Notes that under current rules, men who have sex with men or people who have sex with men who have sex with other men, are ineligible to donate blood if they have been sexually active within the last three months;
2. Acknowledges that the Therapeutic Goods Administration has recently approved the removal of sexual activity rules for plasma donation, but not blood donation;
3. Recognises that countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States have abandoned eligibility criteria that is based on the gender identity or sexual orientation of sexual partners;
4. Notes that adopting an individual risk assessment model such as that used in the United Kingdom could result in an additional 25,000 litres of blood each year in Australia, which could save up to 162,000 lives; and
5. Calls on the Minister for Health to advocate for the federal government to adopt a new policy that aligns with the United Kingdom model of screening all donors for their individual risk regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
This motion notes the current rules that apply with respect to blood donation here in our state and right across the country. In particular, it highlights the restrictions placed on men who have sex with men and highlights the fact that they are ineligible to donate blood if they have been sexually active within the last three months. The motion goes on to acknowledge that the Therapeutic Goods Administration has recently approved the removal of sexual activity rules for plasma donation, but not with respect to blood donation.
The reason I am highlighting this is that Australia is really out of step with other jurisdictions around the world when it comes to restrictions being placed on blood donation. Other places around the world now adopt an evidence-based approach to blood donation, but in South Australia we base it on sexual activity and sexual partners.
It is certainly the view of the Greens that that is an anachronistic approach that needs to be revisited. That is why we are calling on the Minister for Health to advocate for the federal government to adopt a new policy that better aligns with the screening of donors that is adopted in other jurisdictions. I have written to the Minister for Health regarding this matter.
Just briefly, it is important to note that Australia has one of the lowest blood donor rates in the world, and regularly runs short of blood. About one in three Australians will need blood or blood products in their lifetime, but only one in 30 Australians (or 3 per cent) donate blood every year. One point five million blood donations are collected in Australia every year; however, over 1.7 million donations are needed to meet demand. This represents a shortfall of 20,000 blood donations every year.
High stress periods, which usually coincide with the Easter and Christmas holidays, see the amount of blood supply decline, but the demand for blood either stays the same or increases due to more people being on the road and an increase in road accidents. Most of the donated blood is used to help people with medical conditions who require blood or blood products regularly, and each donation can save three lives.
Blood is perishable and only lasts for 42 days. Furthermore, donors cannot give whole blood again for up to three months after they have donated. Despite the need for more blood, there is a large group of potential donors who are prevented from donating: gay men, bisexual men and some non-binary people who have sex with men are expected to abstain from sex for three months before giving blood because of a policy that has been in place for some time.
This ban on blood donations was put in place in the 1980s. Since then, however, there have been significant changes in public policy. Members may be familiar with the availability of the HIV-prevention drug PrEP, which is now readily available in Australia and on the PBS and which is very effective in terms of reducing the transmission of the HIV virus.
Current research supports the arguments that abstinence-based deferrals are no longer necessary to protect the safety of the blood supply. Findings show that a policy of assessing every individual donor for the safety of their sexual activity, regardless of their gender or the gender of their sexual partner, would not only not compromise blood safety but would also increase the blood supply. This would be a major step in removing discrimination from blood donation.
Allowing these groups of people to donate blood could result in an additional 25,000 litres of blood each year in Australia which, it has been estimated, could save up to 162,000 lives. Other countries like Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands have abandoned the old-fashioned bans that are placed on the gender of their sexual partner and instead adopted a policy of individual risk assessment that screens all donors for the safety of their sexual activity. The result in these countries has been that blood supply is safer and less discriminatory.
It is time for Australia to follow their lead. LGBTI groups in Australia, including Just Equal Australia, are calling on the Red Cross Lifeblood service and the Therapeutic Goods Administration to end the barrier to gay men donating blood in our country. Denying gay men, bisexual men and some non-binary people who have sex with men from donating blood reinforces some of the negative connotations of gay sex, and it also prevents same-sex attracted people from being able to make a civic contribution if they so wish by making a donation.
This motion calls upon the Minister for Health and Wellbeing to advocate for the federal government to adopt a new policy. As I say, I have written to the health minister regarding the matter, and I do hope that he takes it up with his counterparts in Canberra and that we can see a change in policy here that would bring our country into line with other jurisdictions and boost the blood supply.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon I.K. Hunter.
3 May 2023
In reply to the The Hon. R.A. Simms MLC (3 May 2023).
1. What is the government doing to support people living with disability when navigating the legal system?
2. Will the government implement the recommendation from the South Australian Law Reform Institute's report titled 'Providing a Voice to the Vulnerable: A Study of Communication Assistance in South Australia' that called on the government to provide a publicly funded service to be available to people with complex communication needs when interacting with the justice system?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector):
I have been advised:
1. My department provides National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020-25 (NLAP) funding to the Legal Services Commission of South Australia, the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and community legal centres for the provision of legal assistance services to key cohorts identified as national priority client groups under the NLAP, which includes people with a disability or mental illness.
Specifically, the department provides (non-exhaustive):
NLAP funding to Uniting Communities Law Centre to deliver the Welfare Rights Service, which provides legal advice and representation to clients with social security matters, including those in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). This includes matters relating to the disability support pension.
State funding to LSC to deliver the Disability Information and Legal Assistance (DILA) unit. The DILA unit provides specialist information and legal advice for South Australians with disability, including those with cognitive or mental impairment, their carers and advocates.
In addition to the services funded by the department, Uniting Communities receives state funding from the Department of Human Services to deliver the Disability Advocacy Service. The Disability Advocacy Service provides education and assistance to people trying to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) system or who are seeking reviews of their NDIS plans. The service also assists with appeals lodged in the AAT regarding a NDIS decision, or in the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal regarding a guardianship order.
Further, there are several initiatives in place to support people with disability and complex communication needs to navigate and engage with the justice system. They include (non-exhaustive):
Vulnerable witness provisions are available to specified people, including people with a mental disability, to help make the experience of giving evidence in court less stressful. This could include giving evidence from a separate room (including via closed-circuit TV—CCTV), having a court support volunteer present or having a canine court companion to accompany the witness while giving evidence.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions' Witness Assistance Officers and Victim Support Services' volunteer Court Companions are available to provide trauma-informed support for victims who may need assistance to participate in the prosecution process, including those with a disability. This may also involve assisting victims to understand information about legal rights and processes and providing practical support so that they can participate in the criminal justice system to the best of their ability and can access appropriate community-based support services.
Canine Court Companions are also available to reduce the stress and anxiety of vulnerable victims and prosecution witnesses. Court Companions is a joint initiative between the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Guide Dogs SA/NT.
2. Ensuring that people with complex communication needs can access the justice system is of the utmost importance to the government and is an ongoing consideration.
The communication partner service is currently provided by qualified communication specialists whereby a person with complex communication needs is entitled to receive communication assistance for support with speech, language and communication needs to facilitate communication with the justice system, including police, criminal defence lawyers, courts or prosecution services.
The government will continue to monitor the impact of the available range of communication assistance strategies to ensure they are operating as effectively as possible.
3 May 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS. Will the minister commit to funding the upgrade of the Glenelg Community Hospital sterilisation department to ensure compliance with new national standards?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has been advised:
In 2017, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the commission) advised all Australian health facilities that sterilisation departments would have until December 2021 to comply with AS/NZS4187 for commonwealth accreditation purposes.
The commission has revised the date for compliance twice since that time, from December 2021 to December 2022, and finally to December 2024.
In July 2022, SA Health approved an application from Glenelg Community Hospital to alter the sterilisation department to comply with the standards. The hospital board was advised at that time that the government was not in a position to provide funding to support the alteration, and this remains the case.
18 May 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (17:05): I rise to speak in favour of this motion. I want to thank the Hon. Mr Martin for putting this forward. It is a worthy matter for this chamber to discuss and a good opportunity for us to reflect on the huge contribution that nurses make to our state.
Every year on 12 May the world comes together to celebrate the nursing profession on International Nurses Day. The nursing profession has had a long and tumultuous past few years, with the onset of COVID-19 and all the challenges that has posed for our health sector. International Nurses Day is a time to reflect and to celebrate the breadth of skill and contributions that nurses make to their communities.
Nurses play an essential role in society. They play a central role in delivering health care. Nurses advocate for health promotion and educate patients and the public on the prevention of illness and injury. They provide care, they assist in cure, they participate in rehabilitation and they provide support. No other healthcare professional has had such a broad and far-reaching role. But nurses do much more than just care for individuals, they have always been at the forefront of change in health care and in public health.
Nurses innovate. Florence Nightingale, who the Hon. Iren Pnevmatikos talked about earlier, is regarded as the founder of modern nursing and remembered as The Lady with the Lamp. Yet, she also collected data to prove that the main cause, by far, of fatalities in the Crimean War was not enemy fire but infections attributed to improper sanitation. She was a pioneering statistician and possibly the first person in history to use graphs and charts to persuade politicians to act.
Nurses provide ongoing assessment of people's health. Their round-the-clock presence, observation skills and vigilance allow doctors to make better diagnoses and propose better treatments. Many lives have been saved because an attentive nurse picked up on an early warning sign of an upcoming crisis such as a cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.
The theme for this year's International Nurses Day is A Voice to Lead: Our Nurses. Our Future. Set by the International Council of Nurses, the 2023 theme addresses the global health challenges exacerbated by the shortage of nurses. Nurses are crucial in all parts of health care, whether it be acute, preventative, primary or community care.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia faced critical nursing shortages, caused in part by the shrinking supply of nursing school graduates and a significant decline in the number of nurses who have been able to migrate from other countries. I note the government has announced some initiatives in that regard in recent days and we certainly welcome that.
We need to increase nurse staffing to patient ratios and skill mixes to ensure that patient safety, better health outcomes, higher recruitment retention, continued professional development and adequate training of staff are all being provided for. InDaily reported last year that nearly 75 per cent of nurses work unpaid overtime and 25 per cent work double shifts.
Our health system is at risk of further nursing shortages due to the longer term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2022, the South Australian Greens called for a one-off $3,000 thank you payment to healthcare workers in recognition of their heavy lifting during the pandemic. According to the McKinsey 2021 Future of Work in Nursing Survey, one-fifth of Australia's registered nurses say they intend to leave their current role in the next 12 months—one-fifth. Forty-one per cent of these nurses say they are planning to move countries or to leave direct care roles altogether. By 2025, anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 nursing positions could be left unfilled in Australia and that poses significant challenges for our health system.
Surveyed nurses cited a desire to seek higher pay as the number one reason driving them to leave the profession; however, having a positive work environment, caring teammates, a safe space and a sense of purpose is important to nurses wanting to remain in the profession. Mitigating the risk of severe nursing shortages requires a comprehensive all-of-government approach. We need to redesign the training pipeline to attract greater numbers of potential nurses to Australia and to the sector. Retention is the most powerful lever we have to address the short-term supply gap; however, merely offering competitive compensation is not enough.
To excite and better engage nurses, stakeholders need to work together to pilot practices to increase nurses' autonomy, to recognise them more effectively and to build goodwill. To attract nursing staff, employers, the health industry and governments need to foster better ways of working for nurses. Employers need to consider the composition and capabilities of care teams to better utilise existing skill sets and qualifications.
We need to learn from the lessons of the pandemic and translate these into actions for the future that ensure nurses are protected, respected and valued. I certainly want to use this opportunity to put on public record my thanks on behalf of the Greens for the great work that nurses have done and continue to do to keep our state safe and healthy. I commend the motion.